The fictional interracial and extramarital relationship between Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) on ABC’s hit TV show, “Scandal,” has elicited negative reactions from fans and critics alike. Since the two seem truly in love, the show invites you to root for their relationship to survive despite the fact that their steamy affair is immoral and could be detrimental to both their careers.
Much of the criticism of Olitz (as the couple is affectionately called) centers around the portrayal of black women on television. Kerry Washington is the first black actress to play a lead role in a primetime TV series in 38 years; it bothers critics for that role to portray a black woman engaging in a salacious, interracial affair.
Conversely, Kerry looks at the complexity of Olivia’s character as a sign of progress for the portray of black women on television. She tells Ebony Magazine in her cover story that hits newsstands on February 5th:
“In her professional life, she is so powerful and is this self-made woman…But in [Olivia’s] personal life, she is a mess and I kind of love that…I love that I get to embody all of that complexity because I also think it takes a certain level of progress for us to have a Black Woman that powerful be an emotional mess on television.”
In a way, Olivia Pope’s character conveys that black women aren’t the one-note untouchable pillar of strength that we’re often made out to be. Perhaps her emotional vulnerability and nakedness shows that we’re not a monolith and that we’re just as complex and layered as anyone else.